In 1893–1895, Aleksander Gierymski stayed in Krakow as a guest of Włodzimierz Tetmajer in Bronowice. He also worked in the latter’s studio then. Having just come back from Paris, Gierymski decided to use the impressionist style in the paintings devoted to the subject of the countryside which was uncharacteristic of him. While selecting folk subjects, he tried to avoid the “poor ethnography” which he criticized. The artist was fascinated by the beauty of the colour and light of the landscape near Krakow and its inhabitants.
The studies of a peasant and a young girl from Bronowice, devoid of anecdote, are marked by a light palette. Focussing on the formal problems did not prevent Gierymski from making an attempt at the psychological characterization of his sitters. The figures, painted against a cool, neutral background and lit from the front, cast blue-and-grey shadows. The man, dressed in the Krakow costume, is posing with the dignity of a rich farmer. His serious expression and straight back give a solemn, almost monumental quality to the painting. The portrait of the girl is more intimate. The enchanting freshness of her looks radiates a slightly melancholic mood, while her folk costume creates combinations of colours suffused with light. Both portraits are characterized by simple composition and the focus on colour and light solutions. The light tonality oscillates between white, blue, violet, grey, red and pink. Paint is applied lightly with free, energetic brushstrokes – more sketchy in the girl’s portrait and with the greater precision of austere drawing in the picture of the man.